Non-linear relationship between cash & life outlook

Many entrepreneurs have blogged about a liquidity event and the impact it has on their life. But Jason Cohen has created perhaps the best visual representation I’ve seen of the non-linear relationship between how much money an exit puts in an entrepreneur’s pocket and their outlook on life. This graphic appears in his blog post which goes into some detail about why he sold his company.

He uses the word “lifestyle” in the graph’s title, but I actually think a more accurate wording is outlook on life in part because the definition of “freedom” varies by person. Someone who has “freedom” money may not change their lifestyle dramatically, but going from not having “freedom” money to having it certainly changes their outlook on life. For someone who’s definition of freedom is renting a shack on the beach in Costa Rica and surfing for the remainder of their life, the amount might only be $1-2M. For someone who already lives a pretty expensive lifestyle in Manhattan or London, the number might be $20M+. For a large swath of folks it’s probably close to $10M give or take.
But the point isn’t really what that amount is for any given person. The point, which the graphic illustrates very well, is the non-linear relationship which exists for pretty much everybody. Having “freedom” money isn’t twice as good as having the 50% of “freedom” amount, just as having 10x the amount isn’t 10x better.

Lee Hower

I’m an investor, entrepreneur, and helper of technology startups. I’m currently a General Partner of NextView Ventures, which focuses on seed stage internet-enabled businesses. I co-founded NextView in 2010 with my partners Rob Go and David Beisel. I started in the VC business as a Principal at Point Judith Capital, an early-stage firm. I joined PJC in 2005 and served as a Principal at the firm through early 2010. During this time I co-led investments in FanIQ, Sittercity, and Multiply and sourced investments in Music Nation and NABsys. Prior to becoming a VC, I was a startup guy myself. I was part of the founding team of LinkedIn, and served as Director of Corporate Development from the company’s inception through our early growth phases. Before that I was an early employee at PayPal, and worked in product management and corporate development roles through the company’s IPO in 2002 and subsequent sale to eBay later that year. I went to college at UPenn and received degrees from both the School of Engineering and Wharton School of Business.

    • Thanks for the mention! I agree that each person has a different notion of where that line is (hence the '?' in the chart).

      Maybe "enough money that you never have to work again, given your ideal lifestyle" is another definition?

    • Lee

      No prob, I enjoyed your post and the visual representation.

      Yes, I'd agree that's a good definition. Also the key point is "never have to work" which is not the same as "don't work". Lots of entrepreneurs who've had a "freedom" type of liquidity event still choose to continue working for other reasons beyond economic ones, of course.